An Inclusive Litany
We missed the death of a notable American this week, so we want to catch up. Gus Hall actually died on Friday. The son of a Minnesota miner became head of the U.S. Communist Party at the height of anti-communist McCarthyism in the late '40s and '50s. He spent eight years in prison and a lifetime in the political wilderness for his views here, but he was a... dignitary in the Soviet Union. Even after his friends there abandoned the cause, Hall never wavered and he was 90.
For those of us who remember the Girl Scouts as the quiet girls in class who wore their green uniforms on Wednesdays, encountering Katze Ludeke can be quite an eye-opener. She seldom wears her sash for St. Croix Valley Troop 1256, preferring to accessorize with army boots and a lavender bra strap that slides persistently down her bare shoulder. Rather than stitching doilies and tea cozies, the talented seamstress has created her own costume company specializing in "fetish-wear." Instead of going for the Gold Award—the Girl Scout's highest honor—by reading to senior citizens, Ludeke pushed to start her own support group for at-risk teens called Queer Youth Exist. For her Gold Award application... Ludeke is submitting her work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, with the support of her troop.
"Girls can play guys' sports, like wrestling and football, but I can't play field hockey," commented the 17-year-old boy, who was co-captain of the team. "It doesn't make sense. An athlete is an athlete."
The decision cited a rule barring boys from playing a girls' sport "unless opportunities in the total sports programs for boys in the school have been limited in comparison to the total sports programs for girls."
I became interested in more complex metaphors and their explanatory powers when I was writing Earth in the Balance. In particular, in my effort to try to understand the origins of our modern world view, and its curious reliance on specialization and ever-narrower slices of the world around us into categories that are then themselves dissected, in an ongoing process of separation, into parts and sub-parts—a process that sometimes obliterates the connection to the whole and the appreciation for context and the deeper meanings that can't really be found in the atomized parts of the whole—and in exploring the roots of that way of looking at the world, I found a lot of metaphors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that came directly from the scientific revolution into the world of politics and culture and sociology. And many of those metaphors are still with us.
[Ed.: Following Gore's eventual concession, his aide Carter Eskew commented to the New York Times: "The popular vote was 50-50, the Florida Supreme Court voted 4 to 3, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4.... To [Gore], this is all a fractal, the geometric theory that pieces of the whole, regardless of the scale, reflect the universe. He says it all the time."]
The Green Party platform calls for a reduction in auto usage on environmental grounds, a point also made by Gore in his book, Earth in the Balance. Of course, there's no shorter route to that goal than higher fuel prices.
In Orange County, California, a court will rule on whether an estranged husband who moved to Montana can claim one of two dogs shared by the couple and receive $25,000 in punitive damages and compensation for loss of companionship. His wife says the dogs should be kept together.
Finally, many more American veterinarians are being sued for malpractice, and their insurers have responded by upping lawsuits' "nuisance value" (out-of-court settlement) from around $200 during the 1970s to $4,000. Caps on damage awards have risen more sharply, from around $300 to five figures. The American Veterinary Association warns their members' increased insurance premiums will inevitably be passed along to consumers, decreasing overall access to veterinary care.
The principal, Daniel Kennedy, later explained that it was the beginning of the year, when schedules were in flux, and they hadn't figured out where to put all the desks they had. The girl could have had a desk if she'd asked for one. The classroom already contained a good deal of new equipment: two wall-mounted television monitors connected to a desktop computer, twelve student computers at six lab stations and many pieces of new lab equipment.
I can't imagine how anyone can chew on a drumstick again after watching the animated movie "Chicken Run," which opened last week to great critical acclaim.
(The 1995 screening of "Babe," the talking pig, led a number of people to drop pork from their diet.)
The delightful British film recounts the story of a group of brave hens plotting to escape from a factory farm. The story is both poignant and funny, and the characters quickly earn their empathy.
I was impressed how these animals that we view as food share our quest for life and liberty as well as most of our feelings of joy, affection, frustration, sadness and pain.
Thankfully, my local supermarket carries a selection of delicious "mock chicken" foods, which unlike dead chicken flesh are free from saturated fat, cholesterol and salmonella.
I look forward to exploring the many cruelty-free, healthful, dietary options that are available.
—Bill L. Price
[Ed.: Lest you think this letter represents an isolated rift between man and medication, note that, minor changes in wording aside, the very same letter appeared in USA Today (attributed to Alex Hershaft of Bethesda, Md., July 13), the Omaha World-Herald (Nancy Lynn, Lincoln, July 12), and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California (Joy Pedroja, Perris, July 14).]